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Boarding via both front _and_ back doors

Flying_Slug
Active Member

I will be departing on a flight from SJC next week, and just received an e-mail from Southwest informing me of a new boarding system, which they say “opens doors for me”.

 

Specifically, the e-mail states: “you may have the choice to board […] through both the front [via jetbridge] and the back [via stairs] doors of the plane. We're testing this boarding [...] process because it allows you, our Customers, to get where you're trying to go even faster than before.”

 

Does this mean that purchasing Early Bird will no longer provide a relatively good assurance of a great boarding position? Will I end up having to compete with folks running down the tarmac to dash up the rear-door stairs to beat me to "the good seats"? How will Southwest manage its traditional boarding-position-based system, when two doors are used for boarding?

 

I will send these questions directly to Southwest, but I’m also posting my questions here, wondering what other folks in this community think. I thank you in advance for any thoughts you may share, and I wish you happy Summer travels!

5 REPLIES 5

Re: Boarding via both front _and_ back doors

SWDigits
Rising Star

I think those are good questions, I would be curious to hear how Southwest responds to your note.  Any chance you are able to return to share your boarding experience out of SJC?

 

There are two different threads I've seen that are relevant to your concerns:

 

  1. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Boarding/SWA-is-testing-loading-from-the-front-and-rear-of-...
  2. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Check-In/We-purchased-earlybird-checkin-and-when-we-got-on-...

Customer | Home airport DCA

Re: Boarding via both front _and_ back doors

Flying_Slug
Active Member

@SWDigits wrote:

I think those are good questions, I would be curious to hear how Southwest responds to your note.  Any chance you are able to return to share your boarding experience out of SJC?

 

There are two different threads I've seen that are relevant to your concerns:

 

  1. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Boarding/SWA-is-testing-loading-from-the-front-and-rear-of-...
  2. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Check-In/We-purchased-earlybird-checkin-and-when-we-got-on-...

Thank you very much for the links, SWDigits!

 

Flying out of (or into) SJC, I haven’t encountered this before, but now I see that it has been happening for a while at other airports. It is the first time I receive an e-mail from Southwest, a few days ahead of my flight, with the subject “Get prepared to fly!” to let me know that they are “introducing a new dual door boarding option”.

 

I think that having passengers line up orderly by the boarding gate, only to then have them choose which boarding door to use, voids the premise that they advertise: “When your boarding group is called, find your designated place in line and board the aircraft in numerical order with your boarding group.” < https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/faqs.html?topic=boarding_the_plane >

 

Now it sounds like people would no longer board the aircraft in numerical order. I’ve been flying Southwest for so long, I remember when Early Bird cost $10. Now I’m middle-aged and certainly can’t compete with youngsters racing down the tarmac to dash up the rear-door stairs. Smiley Frustrated  I know Early Bird doesn’t guarantee a “good seat” but it does provide (usually) a nice boarding position, and, costing (now) $20, it would probably irritate me to look out the jet-bridge window and see folks walking up the rear-door stairs and boarding ahead of me.

 

I’ll come back and share my experience with boarding next week, and I’ll also share the feedback I receive from the e-mail I sent directly to Southwest.

 

Happy Summer, everyone!

Re: Boarding via both front _and_ back doors

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

Decide in advance what seat would be desirable for you. Then gauge the lines as you move up to the point of decision. 

 

My experience in Burbank was that if there are a lot of preboards, take the stairs, you'll work your way back to the exit row before the people taking the jetbridge.

 

But who knows how SJC will work, does your flight have any through passengers, etc.

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Boarding via both front _and_ back doors

Flying_Slug
Active Member

@SWDigits wrote:

I think those are good questions, I would be curious to hear how Southwest responds to your note.  Any chance you are able to return to share your boarding experience out of SJC?

 

There are two different threads I've seen that are relevant to your concerns:

 

  1. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Boarding/SWA-is-testing-loading-from-the-front-and-rear-of-...
  2. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Check-In/We-purchased-earlybird-checkin-and-when-we-got-on-...

Hello SWDigits (and everyone else). I completed my round-trip this week, and here’s my update.

 

It turned out that my flight was not affected by the 2-door boarding system being tested at SJC. I overheard the beginning of an announcement for a nearby gate that was using that system, but I couldn’t listen to it because by that point I was already boarding my flight.

 

On the round-trip flights, the baggage drop-off agents & the boarding-gate agents & the flight attendants were all friendly and efficient. On one flight, the pilots gave us 5-minutes’ notice of “minor turbulence that they anticipated would last for a few minutes, so we were all ready for the “ride” and it was all over within that timeframe. The flights landed no more than 5 minutes later than the scheduled arrival time. My checked suitcase arrived at the carousels without damage. These are the important things that make Southwest my preferred carrier for domestic flights.

 

However, I have not heard a peep from their Customer Service folks, even though over a week ago I sent them an e-mail (requesting a reply), about the original questions I posted here. So, perhaps that’s an area for improvement at Southwest.

 

I’m still confused about how the 2-door boarding system is supposed to work. I wish to avoid being “the one” Smiley Wink  passenger that slows down the boarding process for everyone else. I strongly wish Southwest communicated clearly (with an easy-to-find video on their main page, perhaps?) how this system works.

 

Happy flying to y‘all!

Flying_Slug

Re: Boarding via both front _and_ back doors

Flying_Slug
Active Member

@Flying_Slug wrote:

@SWDigits wrote:

I think those are good questions, I would be curious to hear how Southwest responds to your note.  Any chance you are able to return to share your boarding experience out of SJC?

 

There are two different threads I've seen that are relevant to your concerns:

 

  1. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Boarding/SWA-is-testing-loading-from-the-front-and-rear-of-...
  2. https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/Check-In/We-purchased-earlybird-checkin-and-when-we-got-on-...

Hello SWDigits (and everyone else). I completed my round-trip this week, and here’s my update.

 

It turned out that my flight was not affected by the 2-door boarding system being tested at SJC. I overheard the beginning of an announcement for a nearby gate that was using that system, but I couldn’t listen to it because by that point I was already boarding my flight.

 

On the round-trip flights, the baggage drop-off agents & the boarding-gate agents & the flight attendants were all friendly and efficient. On one flight, the pilots gave us 5-minutes’ notice of “minor turbulence that they anticipated would last for a few minutes, so we were all ready for the “ride” and it was all over within that timeframe. The flights landed no more than 5 minutes later than the scheduled arrival time. My checked suitcase arrived at the carousels without damage. These are the important things that make Southwest my preferred carrier for domestic flights.

 

However, I have not heard a peep from their Customer Service folks, even though over a week ago I sent them an e-mail (requesting a reply), about the original questions I posted here. So, perhaps that’s an area for improvement at Southwest.

 

I’m still confused about how the 2-door boarding system is supposed to work. I wish to avoid being “the one” Smiley Wink  passenger that slows down the boarding process for everyone else. I strongly wish Southwest communicated clearly (with an easy-to-find video on their main page, perhaps?) how this system works.

 

Happy flying to y‘all!

Flying_Slug


I imagine this is my last update on this topic. I’m writing this, mainly, to give credit to the SWA employee who eventually did e-mail me. Thumbs up, and love, to Cindy G. for taking the time.  Smiley Wink 

 

After my last post here, I received an e-mail from Southwest, with: 1) apologies for not replying before my travels had been completed, 2) a statement about how the 2-door system helps to save valuable minutes to keep the operation running on time, and 3) an assurance that my questions/concerns would be passed on to the Senior Leaders.

 

Still, no direct answer to my question about HOW the dual-door boarding system physically and chronologically plays out at the boarding gate(s).

 

I wish the Senior Leaders would direct their tech teams to create a video to post on the website, to show how this works, the same way there is a video showing the regular 1-door boarding process.

 

Southwest is selling boarding position upgrades at the gate for “just” $30-$50, so clearly they know that passengers value boarding positions and the processes that affect them. It really shouldn’t shock them to hear me ask how this boarding system impacts the benefit of boarding order.

 

If you send me an e-mail prior to my flight, telling me you’re trying something new at my departure airport, please: 1) anticipate that I will want to know how exactly the new system works, and 2) have a basic but informative response prepared. Telling me you’re trying something new, without operationalizing the details of how the new thing works, doesn’t help; and telling me afterwards that you’re forwarding my concerns to your higher ups does not answer my question either.

 

I really am surprised that my question is apparently so challenging that it remains unanswered and needs to be passed on to Senior Leaders. Come on, folks. I know Southwest can do better. Please keep being transparent. Your customers expect it.